Music Theory & City-pop

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Discover City-Pop: a Japanese musical genre from the 80s

City -Pop is an iconic Japanese musical genre of the 80s. If you are already an unconditional fan or simply curious, this article will immerse you in the universe of this unique musical style. You will discover his influences, his sound characteristics and his emblematic instruments.

The rise of City-Pop : In the 70s, two musical genres dominated the scene: rock and funk. However, City-Pop emerged as a Japanese fusion of funk and pop. Inspired by international artists such as the Jackson 5 , Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool & The Gang , City-Pop stands out for its catchy melodies and popular structure.


The key influences:

Several elements helped shape the distinctive sound of City-Pop . Progressive rock, carried by icons such as David Bowie and Pink Floyd , brought an incisive touch to this musical genre. Moreover, the advent of synthesizers and drum machines played a major role in the development of City-Pop . Japan, renowned for its technological lead, has seen brands such as Yamaha , Korg and Roland play a key role in this musical evolution.


Statistical analysis of City-Pop songs:

By analyzing a sample of ten City-Pop titles , we can deduce some common characteristics. In terms of length, the songs averaged around 4 minutes and 37 seconds in length, reflecting the radio broadcast constraints of the time. The average tempo is 113 BPM, an ideal rhythm for wiggling and dancing. The time signature is usually in 4/4 time, providing a familiar, easy-to-follow structure. In terms of tonality, songs oscillate between minor and major keys.


Iconic City-Pop instruments:

City -Pop highlights certain characteristic instruments. The organic drums, played mainly by real drummers, bring an authentic rhythm. The bass, played either normal or slapped, provides driving bass lines. Contrary to expectations, the guitar is a bit behind in this musical genre, giving way to the Rhodes electric piano , the dominant instrument of City-Pop . Synthesizers, with their electronic sounds, play a major role, accounting for 90% of the instruments used in City-Pop . There are brands like Yamaha , Korg or Roland .


Programmable drums: Roland Drumatix , DSI Tempest , Roland TR-808

Conclusion :

City -Pop , a captivating mix of funk, pop and international influences, marked the Japanese music scene of the 80s. The catchy sound, its dancing rhythms and the iconic instruments make City-Pop a musical genre to full share. By exploring the richness of this genre, you will dive into a time when Japanese music was booming. Whether you are already a fan or discovering this style for the first time, let yourself be carried away by the magic of City-Pop and let its music resonate within you. Prepare to be transported to the bustling streets of Tokyo , at a time when music was a vibrant reflection of Japanese popular culture.

Do not hesitate to consult the emblematic works of City-Pop to completely immerse yourself in this captivating musical universe. Whether you listen to the driving rhythms of Tatsuro Yamashita , the memorable melodies of Mariya Takeuchi or the innovative productions of Haruomi Hosono , you will be transported to a bygone era whose influence still lives on today.


Young Eikichi Onizuka dancing to Disco/Funk !

City -Pop , with its unique style and varied influences, has captured the hearts of music lovers around the world. So, don’t wait any longer and dive into the world of City-Pop to discover the musical treasures it contains. Whether you are nostalgic for the 80s or simply looking for new sounds, City-Pop is an essential musical genre that will seduce you.

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